I’m in love.
Yes, I’m in love with a pair of in-ear monitors. I know I need to get out more but stick with me.
When I reviewed SIMGOT’s entry-level EM1 IEM last year, I was astounded by their design and remarkable refinement soundwise, especially at the $80 price point. (They sell for $55 bucks now, BTW)
Well, today, I’m moving on to the other end of their product lineup, namely the $359 SIMGOT EK3 in-Ear Monitor Headphones, which is their flagship IEM. The EK3 is a captivating piece of hardware, with a housing made of either crystal clear or smoky grey 3D printed resin. (I got the smoky version)
The lightweight resin cavity is topped with a beautiful honeycomb textured clear cap. Embedded within that cap is a stylized chrome logo, not sure what it represents, but damn it looks cool.
Inside of the 3D printed housings are three Knowles Balanced Armature drivers per side. One large unit handles the low end, while a separate split unit handles the mid-high duties.
The EK3 I got came with a beautiful silver/copper detachable braided (4 Core) cable with curved plastic ear hooks and protected 2-pin connectors. On the other end, there’s a straight 3.5mm plug covered in frosted plastic with the logo visible through the material. It’s a nice touch and makes it easy to plug/unplug.
The cable is similar to the one that came with the EM1, except it’s noticeably thicker and has gold accents that match the gold ear tip nozzles.
Comfort is also remarkable. The smooth ear shells combined with the ergonomic shape make them easy to wear for a long time.
It’s a stunning piece of gear, but the real magic is on the back of each earpiece. This IEM has two toggle switches on each side, which combine to provide four tuning options (Strong Bass, Bright Vocal, Exquisite Tone, Balanced Tuning).
I usually don’t subscribe to gimmicky stuff like this, but this time around, I was impressed by the subtle but effective changes provided by this setup. Out of the box, my pair came set to “Bright Vocal” (both switches set to “off”), which sounded a little bit clinical and boring to me, so I changed them to “Strong Bass” to add a little warmth.
This setting was right up my alley. I wouldn’t necessarily call it “Strong” bass, but “more” bass. I felt the adjustment was nicely made, with a slight bump in the upper bass giving warmth without hurting the definition.
None of the tuning profiles made massive changes to the flat reference sound of these earphones, just minor modifications to the treble, bass, or mids depending on which one you select.
I dug this option. It’s almost like having four different earphones in one. For me, the “Strong Bass” setting was perfect, so I left it there most of the time.
If that’s not enough sound adjustment for you, the EK3 also comes with two sets of ear tips, each with a different shape for a different sound profile. It seems like SIMGOT includes this with all of their IEMs, I know the other two models I tried had them.
I’m sure this is a tweak that makes all the “tip rollers” out there happy. For me, the sound wasn’t changed that much when switching tips, but I preferred the “Balanced” set because they seem a little less bright.
Along with the two sets of tips, you also get a nice leatherette hard case, the brush/switch adjustment tool, and a user manual.
For my sound tests, I started with both earpieces set to the “Exquisite Tone” setting. I would equate that setting to a “flat” EQ, with no emphasis on any part of the spectrum.
I thought the EK3 sounded quite bland with that setting, but at the same time, the tone of voices and instruments sounded natural, and you could get a feel for the wide soundstage of the IEMs along with the beautiful layering of instruments.
The layering and soundstage was something that carried across all the tuning profiles. However, when I switched to the “Bright Vocal” setting, the mids became more forward, and there was more air between the instruments.
When I switched to “Balanced Tuning,” it seemed to boost the treble from what I could hear, adding a little more detail at the top end.
Like I said before, I was partial to the “Strong Bass” setting since it added a little warmth to the basic sound profile, albeit at the expense of a bit of air.
Listening to Van Morrison’s “March Winds In February,” I fell in love with both the natural quality and liveness of Morrison’s voice, along with the three-dimensional presentation. The guitars jump out at you, and I felt like I was at an intimate club date.
I wanted to check out something with a little beat to it, so I put on FKJ’s (formerly known as French Kiwi Juice) “Risk.” I was amazed at how they played both the depth and articulation of the bass, all while maintaining the crispness of the vocals. There’s not much these earphones can’t do.
The only thing that may leave some wanting is the lack of subwoofer bass. If you want crazy rumble along with your high resolution, then you should check out the Periodic Audio Carbon, which we reviewed last year.
Those are tuned for EDM and the like, so they have a V-shaped sound sig along with the extended bass. They also resolve well, but they are not as natural as the EK3, meaning they don’t have the same live music sound, and vocals are not fleshed out as well. The Carbon is more fun; the EK3 is more technical. They both are very crisp.
I’m really in love with the EK3. They tick all the boxes for what I look for in an IEM. Soundstage and imaging, check. Rich, natural vocals, check. Deep controlled bass, check. Sexy design, check. Comfort, check. They have a smooth yet detailed sound that makes you want to play your whole library. Amazing! Highly Recommended.
Gear/Music used for review:
I’m an audio writer who started as a young audio salesman/consumer electronics professional back in the late 90s. That’s where I discovered the magic of 2-Channel sound. My thirst for great sound has led me on a delightful music quest that continues today.